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Atria Glen Cove Fights Dementia With New Software

Program is designed to personalize itself to users, making fun out of mind exercises that fight degenerative mental health.

As mental fitness in the aging moves to the forefront of prevention and treatment of diseases like Altzheimer's, dimentia and other degenerative brain conditions, another of Glen Cove's senior communities is reacting progressively.

opened its Dakim Brain Fitness program for residents' use last week, introducing software that asks each user personal details like age, career and interests, then challenges memory with questions and pictures tailored to the individual.

"It's challenging. It activates your mind. I feel like I've achieved something," said Atria resident Anthony Panaro, 92. "It rejuvenates your mind and helps you think."

Two computers sit in a quiet, neat little room off a second-floor recreation area where two hallways meet. A sliding door partitions the space from the noise of the adjacent television area if need be.

Once signed up, a user accesses their personalized profile by typing their name and clicking on a picture of their face. All the images are large and easily navigated on touch screens. Users listen to questions about historical people and events based on their age and areas of knowledge, choosing the correct images over incorrect ones.

This type of activity is being increasingly studied as a direct factor in prevention of the brain's deterioration due to diseases associated with aging, according to the website of the National Institute on Aging. The to the for an instructional program promoting mental fitness in seniors using similar memory-engaging techniques.

Meagan Devine, Engage Life director at the senior living complex, said the program is part of a consistent effort toward enrichment of its residents' lives and health that she has witnessed since joining the company four years ago.

The Dakim software - which Devine said is "not cheap" - is being used in only three of the company's many facilities so far, she said, and Glen Cove is glad to have it.

"It's great for residents who are independent," she said, noting that not all residents gravitate to group activities as easily as the 92-year-old Panaro gyrated his way into a dance routine recently. Devine said the enjoyability keeps residents coming back. "It's fun. You'll be smiling."

Staring intently at one of the screens was 74-year-old Rhonny Binderow, who said it was her second time using the program. A phone call interrupted her session, which she paused while she explained her activity to the caller in detail.

"I love it," Binderow said. "It feels recreational." 

Devine said the 20-minute sessions are recommended three times per week, and the program supplies her with data on residents' progress as their profiles adjust difficulty according to their performance level each time they sit down.

She said she is seeing consistent progress after one week of the program's being in operation.

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